Journey to a sustainable future

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Natural Pesticide

Lots of people have pesticide applied all over their entire lawn down here in Florida.  To me, this makes no sense for many reasons.
1. The people who usually do this lawn-wide bioterrorism are NEVER actually outside playing or lounging in their lawns!  They are on the sidewalk, the patio, or, more likely, holed up inside the house.  So why bother with making your lawn bug-free?
2. This makes sense, right?  I mean, who wants to hang out with carcinogenic chemicals?
3. Almost every county in Florida already sprays for mosquitoes.  In our county, I'm pretty sure it's not 2,4-D or anything like that, but this other compound that is supposedly harmless to humans, but binds the mosquitoe's wings together so that the newly hatched mosquitoes can't fly.  It may be harmless (I doubt it) but it also doesn't seem terribly effective.  Come take laundry off the line in my back yard at 5 pm. 
4. Only about 1% of insects in your yard and garden are actually harmful.  So the other 99%, which include bees that pollinate your flowers, and butterflies that make you say "oh, how pretty!" are also getting torched.  Not fair.
5. For things like wasps, black widow spiders, termites, and fire ants, you can spot-exterminate.  Or, just have the pest control people spray around the perimeter of your house, as infrequently as you can stand it.
6.  It's Florida, people.  I am convinced that humans were not actually meant to live here.  I think we should all leave, immediately, and let the fire ants, pythons, water moccasins, black widows, and cockroaches have a good ol' time before it's all underwater in 50 years.  Just accept that bugs are part of the equation.
7. We have free, natural, biodynamic, native pest control constantly patrolling our neighborhood! 

ibises eating bugs
8.  They may not be the cutest, prettiest birds ever, but they're a lot better looking than containers of pesticide.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ditching the to do list

likes to steal my hats, August 2012
I like having a clean house.  I like it being dusted, swept, wiped down, sanitized (within reason) and clutter-free on a regular, frequent basis.

I also have a toddler.  And yes, I could have a dusted, swept, wiped down, sanitized, clutter-free house on a regular, frequent basis.  But in saying yes to those things, I have to say no to so much more.

And I am tired of saying no.  I am tired of being frustrated with Rachel when she wants to make putting the blocks away into a game.  I am tired of losing my temper when she "helps" me sweep, and succeeds only in spreading the sand over the floor even more.  I am tired of staring guiltily at my chore chart, which mocks with its clean, uncrossed off surface.  Even more, I detest how stressed I am when 4:00 rolls around and the only thing to "show" for my day is that I made the bed, there are beans in the crockpot, and my mixing bowls are strewn all over the house. 

silly game! Aug 2012
I had told Steve a month or so ago that any given day, I could accomplish 1 of 3 things.  Either the house was clean, or I got enough rest and sleep, or Rachel had a great, playful day.  None of those could coincide.  And you know?  That's awful! 

Because what kind of person, woman, or mom am I teaching Rachel to be when I snap at her for unloading the dishwasher that I am loading?  When I feel like a failure because I haven't wiped down the counters in 3 days?  When I delay, distract, and even, shamefully, ignore her when she asks to nurse, or play, or read a book? 

Now, some things just have to happen.  And that's life.  I have to hang the clothes on the clothesline.  She doesn't like waiting while I do that, and shows her displeasure by taking the laundry out of the basket and throwing it on the lawn.  Dishes need to get washed (she likes helping with that).  I make the bed everyday, and water the garden almost everyday, too.  And there are many other things like that.  I am not advocating living like a slob and just saying "oh, well, I have a toddler, you know."

Sometimes I wonder how much further I can lower my expectations for my to do list, without abandoning my principles entirely.  So two nights ago, I took down my chore chart.  It is now hidden in a closet.  I still know what needs to get done that day.  I do have a little pad of paper that I write down things to do, like grocery shopping, make bubbles, respond to email from mom, etc.  But there is no master list.  There is no tangible way for me to judge my success or failure for the day.

stacking blocks on the cat

Which is a very good thing.  Because raising attached children in a gentle, respectful way is all about the intangible, unmeasurable things.  Hugs, kisses, silly games, nursery rhymes, playdates, swimming, chasing the cat, potty training, learning to say "frog"--all of those, and especially the attitude with which I do them--those are the most important things in my life.  
brushiing Benny the Beaver's teeth

I still intend to keep a moderately clean, decluttered house.  But my priority is raising my daughter.  I can always sweep the floor later.  But connecting with her is often a now-or-never proprosition. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Breastfeeding: it's the minimalist thing to do!

Rachel very excited to be breastfeeding on a hike, Colorado, 2011
Breastfeeding is the minimalist thing to do!

Just think of all the stuff you don't need: bottles, bottle brushes, formula cans, nipples, nipple caps, nipples in different sizes, bottle warmers, bottle coolers, pacifiers, pacifier holders. 

You just!  And your baby, of course.  Which is good, for someone as forgetful as me. 

The only real breastfeeding equipment I needed was herbs and medication to overcome my low milk supply issues, and an SNS.  But I made my own tinctures, and all the packaging for my medicine, for the 14 months I used it, probably amounted to 2 cans of formula.  The SNS was equal to less than one bottle.  Plus, I just discovered that Nordstroms will alter any bra you bring them to turn it into a nursing bra--how cool is that?

I believe that mamas and babies are a true dyad for the first year, and so I never left Rachel for longer than she could go without nursing.  I am fortunate to be a full-time, stay at home mom, and so we never needed bottles or a breast pump.  I tried to convince her to take a pacifier so that I could get a bit more sleep, but by that point she was convinced that the real deal was the only deal in town, and she wasn't having any substitutes!

Simplification leads to a more genuine life.  Nursing Rachel, and forgoing all the paraphernalia that could have supplanted or supplemented breastfeeding, has been wonderful for us.  Rachel and I share a bond and a connection that could not be the same if I had not nursed her--was still not nursing her. 

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!